I think the Prodigal Son has had a bad press.
I thought "prodigal" meant one who, black-sheepedly, wandered off the straight and narrow, did evil stuff, then came back.
It turns out I was wrong.
Prodigal means lavish, wasteful, extravagant . . .
Not in an evil way necessarily.
I know people who suddenly became wealthy. Some of them could definitely be called prodigal. They threw their money around like there was no tomorrow. Became ridiculously generous to all and sundry.
"The drink are on me" and "Let me buy that for you" . . . .
In extreme cases, even cars and houses were given as gifts.
But not bad, just maybe foolish.
When I saw that, I wondered why the guy in the bible story was so universally thought of as a bad lot.
You know what I found?
It was his jealous older brother, who hadn't seen him in like, forever, who assumed that his bru was down and out because of a lifestyle that included harlots.
And obviously, all the bad stuff that went along with that.
And a lot of us have bought his story.
For 2000 years.
Kinda scary isn't it?
Another interesting thing about these two:
They were both sons of a devoted father.
But both fell into a 'servant mindset' towards him
The younger because he felt he'd messed up so badly that all he could expect from his father was to be his servant.
(Do backsliders feel this way when they return?)
The older (maybe the sadder of the two cases) had stayed with his father; always within reach of his father's love for him, with all thefather's resources freely available to him.
But he was so busy trying to serve him - to be the good servant, the hardworking servant, the dependable one, that he never realised that all his father wanted was to have him close, loved and loving.
And in having the mindset of a servant, he robbed himself of experiencing sonship.
(Do dutiful believers fall into this trap?)
All the pain he felt was the product of his own imaginations and feelings.
He was badly graunched up but it only showed when the younger son showed up and received undeserved royal treatment from the father.
Jealousy; resentment; anger; sorrow; rejection . . .
Causing huge pain to the bewildered father.
It's enough to break you heart, to read what the father says to that son. # Luke 15:28-31
Its a perfect picture of grace, misunderstanding, legalism, duty, love, religiosity, joy, reconciliation and freedom.
Its also a mirror of us today, if we care to take a peek.